Wherein Fr. Z shows provocatively that Dr. Peters agrees with Fr. Z after all in the matter of one Mass for back to back Holy Days of Obligation

[GO HERE for an important follow-up post.]

I include the picture to the right, only, because, today, I went to the fantastic exhibit on the American painter George Bellows. Thus, “Stag at Starky’s”.  The audience depicts the internet more than the opponents.

Regarding the need to attend two Masses to fulfill the obligation of Holy Day of Obligation preceding a Sunday (which is always a Holy Day of Obligation) Dr. Peters wrote… watch the moves….:

To satisfy the obligation to attend Mass on Immaculate Conception, must the Mass one attends in satisfaction of the Immaculate Conception obligation be [a] the Mass of the Immaculate Conception, celebrated before the evening of December 8, or, can it be [b] any Mass celebrated at any time beginning on the evening of December 7 and running till 11:59 pm December 8? I say the Latter.

And I rest my case.

Is that Mass also the eve, the vigil, of a Sunday?

Yes. It is!

Ergo… it satisfies also the obligation for Sunday.  One Mass – two obligations satisfied.  The formulary for Mass is not relevant.

Sometimes it works that way, because that is how we do law in the Church.  We favor flexibility when burdens are imposed.

Others disagree.  Others, such as Peters?, do not agree that we, according to the long-standing practice of interpretation, should interpret the law as flexibly as possible to allow for people.  No.  They impose burdens the law seems not to impose.

Liturgical time… blah blah blah… the law says on the day itself or the evening.  The “day”. This time, they coincide.  Let the law be made clearer if a burden is being imposed.

Also, auctores scinduntur.  Given the doubt, all the more reason to be looser on the obligation.

In the meantime, I repeat, I think people should go to Mass twice.  I will also repeat that I defer to proper authority.

I don’t think people should think in terms of the minimum.  But I, a priest, learned that we use canon law also to help people be at ease about their obligations.  That is why we interpret law strictly.  Am I wrong?

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65 Responses to Wherein Fr. Z shows provocatively that Dr. Peters agrees with Fr. Z after all in the matter of one Mass for back to back Holy Days of Obligation

  1. There’s a flaw in this reasoning somewhere, but it’s late on the East Coast, and (yawn!) I’ll wait for someone else to find it.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    But Pater, I expressly stated: “First Question. Can attendance at one Mass on the evening of Saturday, December 8, 2012, satisfy the obligation to attend Mass on Immaculate Conception and the Second Sunday of Advent? I say No.”

    You can’t say I then said Yes in Q 2, for, Q 2 is a different issue. Really. I am being clear. Folks can disagree with me, but I stress out when they don’t understand me. I think you misread my position.

  3. Matt R says:

    Now, I have a question. Can a priest say the Mass for the holy day later in the evening, even after the time that he is permitted to say the Mass of anticipation for Sunday?

  4. Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from reading Dr. Peters’ excellent blog over the last couple years, it’s that I’m not qualified or competent to try to interpret canon law. As a result I always defer to his judgement on an issue. :)
    I defer to you on theology and liturgy, Fr. Z, but for something canonical I feel that I have to give it to Dr. Peters first.

  5. PhilipNeri says:

    ‘Round these parts (Archdiocese of New Orleans), the rule Handed Down from On High is: the Sat Vigil Mass may fulfill either the obligation for I.C. OR the 2nd Sunday of Advent but not both. This seems to me to be the correct interpretation. . .though I hastily add that I’d rather serve as a missionary in the Sudan than tackle canon law as a profession.

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP
    http://www.hancaquam.blogspot.com

  6. FrG says:

    A few points to consider (ad Z):

    1. The key point is this: The obligation is to attend Mass. That’s any Mass, not necessarily the Mass of the day. So one fulfills the Sunday precept by attending a nuptial Mass, even when all of the propers, etc. are different from that Sunday’s Mass.

    2. The window for fulfilling the obligation to attend any Mass extends from the evening before (4:00pm) until 11:59 that night (a 32 hour period).

    3. Sometimes obligatory days coincide. An example would be when August 15 is a Sunday. Obviously one need not attend two Masses. The Assumption takes liturgical precedence, and the Sunday obligation is fulfilled by attending Assumption Mass.

    4. This year, the Immaculate Conception coincides with the Second Sunday of Advent for eight hours. During those eight hours, one can fulfill both obligations by attending any Mass. So let’s say someone, having gone to Immaculate Conception Mass Saturday morning, decides to attend the vigil Mass for Advent that same evening. This person is surprised to see that Father is (incorrectly) saying the Immaculate Conception Mass that Saturday evening. Must he go back to Mass Sunday morning? No. He fulfilled the precept to attend Mass within the given timeframe.

    Many on this issue are confusing the canonical obligation to attend Mass with the liturgical precedence of which Mass should be said when. They are separate issues.

    Is it ideal to get a “twofer”? No. But, based on the logic of things, and unless a clear canonical argument can be made otherwise, I think it counts.

  7. Tim Ferguson says:

    weighing in, tentatively, as I am but a junior canonist:

    Lets say something very important happens to me on June 15. In thanksgiving to God, I make a private vow (or even a public one), to attend Holy Mass every month on the 15th day of that month. I dutifully attend Mass every month on the 15th, regardless of what day of the week it is. If the 15th falls on a Sunday, or another day of precept (as it does in August), does my vow to attend Mass on the 15th oblige me to attend two Masses – one, in fulfillment of my vow, and a second to fulfill my general obligation?

    It would seem that if one Mass could count in this situation to fulfill two obligations, one Mass on this Saturday evening could similarly fulfill both obligations as well.

  8. robtbrown says:

    If, indeed, the first Peters answer was that attendance at one evening mass cannot satisfy consecutive obligations., then I agree with him. IMHO, this is a bit like a cleric beginning his Office at 11:45pm and ending it on the next day. Could this one Office satisfy for two obligations? I think not.

    BTW, I have heard that Cardinal Richelieu would say two Offices consecutively. He would begin one day’s Office at, say, 11:30pm, conclude it around midnight, then say the Office for the next day.

    The second question, however, is not so clear. On solemnities the obligation for celebration cum populo is to the general calendar of the Church–thus the IC liturgy this year on the 8th, and Sunday liturgy on the 9th (or the anticipatory mass). There are certain exceptions for masses for the dead (e.g., funeral mass or first day on hearing the news of a death) that apply to the Octave of Christmas but not to Sunday or other solemnities, so these don’t seem to apply to the present problem.

    The conclusion would seem to be if someone attended only an evening mass this year on the 8th, it would satisfy the IC obligation if that liturgy is used or for Sunday if the appropriate Sunday liturgy is used–but not both.

    BTW2, I won’t hang for it, but I seem to remember that in certain circumstances the TLM permits the insertion of the Requiem Agnus Dei into non Requiem masses.

    BTW3, I stumbled on the following GIRM interesting text (cf Vatican.va):

    382. At the Funeral Mass there should, as a rule, be a short homily, but never a eulogy of any kind.

  9. Jason Brown says:

    “Wherein Fr. Z shows provocatively that Dr. Peters agrees with Fr. Z.”

    Right, except that he doesn’t and he plainly said that he didn’t in the post you linked to. I’m wondering what you meant by ‘provocative.’ This post is certainly provocative at least in provoking a (well-merited) response from Dr. Peters.

    It’s fine for you to engage Dr. Peters in debate, and a sensible part of debate is to say what is not in dispute: namely whether one must attend a Mass of the Immaculate Conception in order to satisfy that obligation. But it is in dispute whether one can also satisfy the Sunday obligation at the same time. In suggesting that Dr. Peters agrees with you on this question your post is misleading.

  10. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It just goes to show that we should have more festival activities for the Immaculate Conception vigil and day, because then people would want to go to Mass multiple times that weekend rather than just twice, and we’d instead be arguing about how many times a weekend you’re allowed to go to Mass.

  11. wolfeken says:

    Am I on Fishwrap’s website by accident? Is this really what conservatives are spending their time on?

  12. Joe in Canada says:

    Having looked at the link to Dr Peters’ site, and not being a canonist, but trying to be a reasonable human being, it seems to me that what Dr Peters means in the second question, is that attending a Sunday vigil Mass on Dec. 8 would satisfy the requirement to attend Mass on Dec. 8, as opposed to the idea that if you didn’t get to Mass before Saturday evening, you’re out of luck. The question of whether this would also satisfy the obligation to go to Mass on Sunday (with opportunities extended by the grace of God through the Church to Saturday evening) would be an open question, except that Dr Peters elsewhere has also addressed it. So in a sense Q1 is as it were an explanatory footnote to Q2.

  13. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Tim Ferguson, not quite right. You would attend only one Mass, yes, but in virtue of the long-standing rule that when two days of precept fall on the same day, one Mass satisfies both. This year, Immac. Concep. and Second Sunday Adv. do NOT fall on the same day (only part of the latter’s period for satisfaction falls on the former) and so two Masses are required.

  14. mamajen says:

    I am not understanding the apparent difference between those few hours on Saturday night when the holy day overlaps with Sunday vigil, and when a holy day actually falls on Sunday. We are never required to attend twice on Sunday…what’s the difference? Where is the quote in Canon Law that outlaws a so-called “two-fer”?

    We will be attending tonight and Sunday, but between the difficult mass schedule and the misinformation about when the obligation can be fulfilled (our diocese is saying Saturday night is too late to “count” for the holy day), I can see how it will be tough for some people.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    By the way, December 8th is a Holy Day of Obligation in Ireland as well and parishes are putting on extra vigil Masses tonight or changing the regular evening Mass to a vigil Mass and announcing it as such. The idea is to get as many people in for two Masses this weekend as possible.

  16. While I routinely defer to Dr. Peters in nearly all canonical matters, I would venture to point out the following. During my time in Rome, I used to go to Mass frequently at the church of Santissima Trinita’ dei Pellegrini, which was established as a “personal parish” in 2008 and entrusted to the pastoral care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, with the full authority of the local bishop (and I don’t need to spell out who the Bishop of Rome is, right?). Their Mass schedule has a unique feature: there is Mass every day at 6:30 p.m., seven days a week. Since the calendar for the 1962 Missal — which, again, is fully authorized for use — does not provide for “vigil” Masses except for a few days each year, if I were to attend Mass on Saturday at 6:30 p.m., December 8th, the liturgical celebration would be that of the Immaculate Conception. Could anyone argue that by attending the 6:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday at Santissima Trinita’ I had not thereby also fulfilled my Sunday Mass obligation as well? I have attended Mass on the vigil or eve of Sunday, “on the evening of the preceding day” — even though the texts of the Mass were not those of the Sunday, but rather still those of the Immaculate Conception (remember: the faithful cannot be required to “hear” any one particular set of Mass texts — e.g., if I attend a Byzantine Catholic parish on Sunday, the Mass texts are different than at the local Latin parish, but I have still fulfilled my Sunday obligation). I do not like the “minimalist” mentality either, but to “minimize” the amount of space I might take up here, the rest of my thoughts on this issue, and the degree to which the average member of the faithful can be held responsible for navigating this collision of canon law and liturgical law given the difficulty of finding consistent direction from the competent authorities, can be found at: http://casasantalidia.blogspot.com/2012/12/two-obligations-this-weekend-collision.html

  17. Tim Ferguson says:

    I am just having a hard time getting past what seems to me to be the absurd legalism that would lead to a person attending a 5 p.m. vigil Mass of the Second Sunday of Advent, and then sticking around for the 7 p.m. vigil Mass of the Second Sunday of Advent, in order to fulfill a double obligation.

    Mind you, I think that a good deal of this discussion leads rightly to a reconsideration of the practice of vigil Masseson the whole. How much easier would it be if Sunday Masses counted for Sunday, and Saturday Masses counted for Saturday…

  18. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    But, Tim, you DON’T have to “stick around” till 7 pm to satisfy the Sunday obligation. You can if you want to, but all you need to do what is required of you anyway, satisfy your Sunday obligation. Did you see my $ 100 analogy?

  19. charismatictrad says:

    Ok…so can someone tell me: can one go to Mass on Saturday evening and fulfill both obligations?

    I need an answer because in about 3 hours I’ll have an auditorium full of High School students asking me whether or not they can just go Saturday evening to kill two birds with one stone.

  20. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    M.R. Hi!

    “While I routinely defer to Dr. Peters in nearly all canonical matters…” Smart lady, she. :)

    “Could anyone argue that by attending the 6:30 p.m. Mass on Saturday at Santissima Trinita’ I had not thereby also fulfilled my Sunday Mass obligation as well?” Sure. I do, GB&I does, Bp. Dunn does, and so on.

    “remember: the faithful cannot be required to ‘hear’ any one particular set of Mass texts…” Careful, there’s rabbit trail there, but we need not run it now.

    “if I attend a Byzantine Catholic parish on Sunday, the Mass texts are different than at the local Latin parish, but I have still fulfilled my Sunday obligation.” Sure. Once more, ANY Mass satisfies one Mass attendance obligation. No Mass satisfies TWO Mass attendance obligations.

  21. padredana says:

    When I was in the seminary, only a few short years ago, we were taught Fr. Z’s position by a very prominent and reputable Canonist, and I agree. The law should be interpreted in the way that is most favorable toward the faithful. After all, the whole point of the law is the salvation of souls. Therefore, in this case, by going to Mass on Saturday evening one satisfies BOTH obligations. I see no other possible reading of the law itself. Saying otherwise only invents a new burden which should not be placed on the faithful. The law just does not support Dr. Peter’s position. It’s really quite simple.

  22. acardnal says:

    Dr. Peters, perhaps I missed your response, but can you answer the question which charismatictrad above posed with a simple yes or no?

    “can one go to Mass on Saturday evening (acardnal’s edit here: at 5 pm) and fulfill both obligations?”

  23. Tim Ferguson says:

    I did, but I’m not sure that money, because of it’s fungibility, is the most apt analogy – and I can’t imagine a realistic contract where a debtor would be permitted to “skip” a payment just because August 15 falls on a Sunday.

    When a Holy Day of Obligation falls on a Sunday, one of two things happen liturgically – either the HDO supercedes the Sunday (Say, when November 1 falls on a Sunday in Ordinary Time), or the Sunday supercedes the feast (e.g., next year, when December 8th falls on a Sunday). In the second scenario, the Church transfers the feast, but not the obligation. In the first scenario, the celebration of the Sunday is subsumed into the feast. One Mass fulfills both obligations.

    I just can’t see why that would not also apply to Saturday evening, December 8. But, I do submit that the bishops have made a determination and submit to their ruling, even if I fail to see their reasoning.

    For myself, I’ll be hearing Holy Mass this evening, which hopefully will count both for First Friday and for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

  24. robtbrown says:

    1. The obligation is not merely to attend mass on Saturday, nor is it to use a certain liturgy. The obligation is to the Roman Calendar, which includes both the date and the liturgy.

    2. My understanding is that if a nuptial mass is said on a solemnity, the liturgy of the solemnity must be used, with the nuptial additions.

  25. AnnAsher says:

    Well this is a relief to me. I have a new job where I work 2-midnight and I have to work this Sunday. There is TLM Saturday at 2:30 where I attend regularly 1 1/2 hours from home. I have been wrestling with how to meet my obligations while desiring to give my best to God in the TLM when it is offered particularly when we are blessed enough to get it for the Holy Day apart from Sundays. So I was intending on 2:30 Sat IC Mass and trying to figure what to do about Sunday? Torture my wee ones and have a dinner break and then back to evening Sunday Vigil which would be Novus Ordo but at the parish with TLM is usually sans liturgical infractions? Or get up for Sunday AM Mass at 9 AM locally where serious liturgical infractions and erroneous teachings and lackadaisical celebration are likely? Then drag myself thru my late night shift; doing a disservice to the ministry of my job?
    See what a mess was in my head! So now I will prefer that I went to two Masses but am relieved that the one TLM with all due Praise and Honor and Worship to the Most High will suffice ! Praise be to God! Phew!!!

  26. robtbrown says:

    padredana says:

    When I was in the seminary, only a few short years ago, we were taught Fr. Z’s position by a very prominent and reputable Canonist, and I agree. The law should be interpreted in the way that is most favorable toward the faithful. After all, the whole point of the law is the salvation of souls. Therefore, in this case, by going to Mass on Saturday evening one satisfies BOTH obligations.

    I don’t think your conclusion follows. How can it be said that attending mass once for two days is more oriented toward Salus animarum than attending mass twice in two days?

  27. Pingback: Obligatory Two Masses This Saturday | Big Pulpit

  28. The Masked Chicken says:

    Yea! A question for which I have absolutely no qualifications to open my mouth. I get to practice the virtue of patient endurance until the experts finish duking it out. What is the rule – last man standing makes the interpretation? Will that bout be finished be on a Saturday or a Sunday. All I can guarantee is that Monday doesn’t satisfy either Holy Day.

    Personally, I think going to Mass on both days is a privilege. Unless there is another commitment, why wouldn’t you want to go?

    The Chicken

  29. AnnAsher says:

    Although 2:30 is early for a “vigil” ugh my head hurts. There is no time to get to Sunday TLM at 2:30 since ill be working…and I dread with great anxiety the possibility of the local early N.O.
    What about the fact that what the Church offers me is the 2:30 Saturday time slot through no fault of my own? Does the law say *what time* a vigil must be ???

  30. Southern Catholic says:

    Our bishop said the vigil was good for both obligations.

  31. Joseph-Mary says:

    If you are a daily communicant, it is just not ever a problem!

    But this business of having Holy Days of Obligation some years and then not on the years when they are on a Saturday or Monday really decreases the whole understanding to most people on their very importance and necessity.

  32. jesusthroughmary says:

    It should be pointed out that a Nuptial Mass is a votive Mass, and as such may not be celebrated on a Sunday or a feast day of first or second class. So while one may be able to fulfill a Sunday obligation by attending a Sunday (or in this case Friday evening or Saturday) Nuptial Mass, that Mass is actually illicit. A couple being married this weekend should be celebrating the Mass of either the Immaculate Conception (from 4 pm Friday to 4 pm Saturday) or the Second Sunday of Advent (after 4 pm Saturday), with the Rite of Marriage and Nuptial Blessings added.

    Fr. Z, the most you can say is that the logic of Dr. Peters’ answer to Question 2 contradicts his own answer to Question 1 and leads inexorably to your answer to Question 1. You cannot say that he agrees with your answer to Question 1.

    This is clearly a question that requires a once-and-for-all ruling from the Roman Curia.

  33. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Tim F, when it comes to satisfying attendance obligations, Masses ARE fungible, per c. 1248.1.

  34. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    People are really misconstruing favores ampliari. Seriously. I’ll add it to my to-do list.

  35. wmeyer says:

    Saying otherwise only invents a new burden which should not be placed on the faithful.

    Mass is a burden? Really??? I can’t say that I have ever considered it to be. Opportunity, yes, but burden? Not!

  36. padredana says:

    for Robtbrown: Maybe this will shed some light on what I wrote before. If Dr. Peters interpretation were correct, someone who attended Mass at 5pm on Saturday, and only attended that Mass, would commit a mortal sin. If Fr. Z’s interpretation (the one I agree with) is true, then the person who attends a 5pm Mass on Saturday, and only attended that Mass, would not commit a mortal sin. Thus the second interpretation certainly helps the faithful to stay in God’s grace.

    Now, all that being said, going to two Masses would certainly be spiritually better. Even so, the law says what it says. Dr. Peter’s interpretation lays a heavier burden upon the shoulders of the faithful than is necessary.

  37. robtbrown says:

    Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Tim F, when it comes to satisfying attendance obligations, Masses ARE fungible, per c. 1248.1.

    It’s the same for the Divine Office. If a priest is confused and on Dec 8th doesn’t say the IC Mass or says the Office for the wrong day, the obligation is fulfilled (persolvitur). Ditto for a laicus who, not having control of the liturgy, attends such a mass.

    On the other hand, it is a different matter for a priest who this year knowingly would only say 1 mass on Saturday, an anticipatory Sunday mass. Did he celebrate mass on Dec 8th? Yes. But it is another matter whether he celebrated the IC.

  38. padredana says:

    wmeyer: A burden is not always negative. Burdens can be positive as well. Example: the cross. It is a burden to bear, but a blessed burden indeed.

  39. robtbrown says:

    padredana says:

    for Robtbrown: Maybe this will shed some light on what I wrote before. If Dr. Peters interpretation were correct, someone who attended Mass at 5pm on Saturday, and only attended that Mass, would commit a mortal sin. If Fr. Z’s interpretation (the one I agree with) is true, then the person who attends a 5pm Mass on Saturday, and only attended that Mass, would not commit a mortal sin. Thus the second interpretation certainly helps the faithful to stay in God’s grace.

    I understand what you’ve been saying. I just think it makes no sense. According to your comments, the fewer obligations, the better. And so if the Sunday obligation is reduced to once a month, fewer Catholics who intentionally missed mass would sin.

    Any Holy Day of obligation, incl Sunday, exists because there are spiritual benefits to attending mass.

  40. wmeyer says:

    wmeyer: A burden is not always negative. Burdens can be positive as well. Example: the cross. It is a burden to bear, but a blessed burden indeed.

    I take your point, but a burden is defined as a heavy load, such as the cross. I pray I never find the sacrifice of the Mass, which always lifts me up, a heavy load.

  41. jesusthroughmary says:

    robtbrown –

    You said of padredana, “According to your comments, the fewer obligations, the better.” I don’t believe that is what he is saying. He is saying that a dubious law should be interpreted in favor of the “defendant” rather than in favor of the “prosecutor”. There is no doubt as to law that every Sunday is of obligation.

    Of course, you won’t see this comment until it’s irrelevant, because I cannot escape the limbo of having every one of my comments moderated. I have a comment from 1 pm today that is still in moderation and at least 8 comments back now.

  42. I’m dense today, I guess: I’m not seeing why this is confusing. Two obligations, two times attending the Holy Mass. Ideally, one does so on the days in question, participating in the proper prayers in question, but the obligation is to attend Mass. The concession to practicality lies in not insisting on the tidiest of compliance.

    But again, to keep it simple: two obligations, two Masses. One is obliged to observe Sunday with Mass (check) and then an additional holy day with Mass.

    As worthwhile as it is to reflect on the specific feast–by hearing the particular readings and prayers and homily–what is being commanded, it seems to me, is fealty to our God and Savior, which means that attending the Sacrifice is the main thing.

  43. acardnal says:

    padredana said “. . . then the person who attends a 5pm Mass on Saturday, and only attended that Mass, would not commit a mortal sin. Thus the second interpretation certainly helps the faithful to stay in God’s grace.”

    Really? Is that really a good reason for the Church to make its precepts more lenient? Isn’t that one of the reasons the USCCB eliminated the obligation to attend Mass on several previously obligated Holy Days of the Universal Church? And isn’t that one of the reasons the USCCB eliminated the requirement under pain of sin to avoid eating meat on all Fridays . . . because it was too hard, too much of a burden on the laity?

    The Church also has precepts for confessing our sins once per year and receiving Holy Communion during the Easter season, to contribute to the support of the Church, and to observe the laws of the Church regarding marriage. Perhaps the Church should eliminate those too so the people won’t commit sin?

    As robtbrown implied, the Church desires us to attend Mass frequently because it is good for our salvation, our souls. This applies to all six precepts of the Church including assisting at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

  44. Acardnal:

    Actually, there is no precise precept to confess, ever. There is a precept to receive holy communion once a year–and by extension, because one is obliged to be in a state of grace, that means anyone conscious of grave sin must go to confession.

    But that is not the same as saying, there’s a precept to confess.

  45. acardnal says:

    CCC # 2042 states otherwise Fr. Martin Fox.

  46. acardnal says:

    CCC #2042: ” The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82 (1389, 2180, 1457, 1389)
    The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.83
    The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84
    2043 The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.85 (2177, 1387, 1438, 1351)
    The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.86
    The faithful also have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his abilities.87

  47. Oops! Well, thanks for the correction; I don’t know how I missed that.

    That said, it is certainly possible for one to go a year without a mortal sin. I mean, if we believe in the power of grace, how can we deny that?

    So the quandary remains: how can there be an obligation to confess when one has no mortal sins to confess? Here are the relevant canons:

    Can. 987 To receive the salvific remedy of the sacrament of penance, a member of the Christian faithful must be disposed in such a way that, rejecting sins committed and having a purpose of amendment, the person is turned back to God.

    Can. 988 §1. A member of the Christian faithful is obliged to confess in kind and number all grave sins committed after baptism and not yet remitted directly through the keys of the Church nor acknowledged in individual confession, of which the person has knowledge after diligent examination of conscience.

    §2. It is recommended to the Christian faithful that they also confess venial sins.

    Can. 989 After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is ob-liged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year.

    You see the problem?

    That’s why I’ve always emphasized the “Easter Duty” in the way that I did above.

    But perhaps this has become a rabbit hole? I dread the red annotations from our genial host, so I will stop now.

  48. acardnal says:

    Just for clarification, confession annually is a precept of the Church as stated in the CCC. However, annual confession is not obligatory unless mortal/serious sin is involved.

    The precept regarding marriage laws was curiously removed from the 1997 CCC although it has been a part of Catholic teaching for centuries.

  49. A.D. says:

    In our parish the question has not been discussed. We have a Friday vigil and a Saturday 11 am scheduled for the Immaculate Conception solemnity and the regular Sat 5:30 pm and Sunday’s Masses for the Sunday. Unless there is great difficulty, I think one should attend a Mass for each.

    charismatictrad,
    Perhaps later you could teach the high school students another phrase to use instead of the killing birds one. Try this. “That way I can feed two birds with one crust of bread.” Now isn’t that better than killing the birds? : – )

  50. Supertradmum says:

    Fr. Martin Fox, How can one develop a keen conscience without going to frequent, even weekly Confession? The object is not merely to abstain from serious or even venial sin, but to move towards perfection and holiness. This is only possible with purification of the entire person: “He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself” Douay. Luke 10:27. This means that frequent Confession is essential to becoming a saint. And remember Leon Bloy–”The only tragedy in life is not to become a saint.”

  51. Super:

    Well, there are two issues here: the goodness of frequently going to confession, and the obligation imposed by law–meaning there is a sin in disobeying.

    The point at issue was precisely the latter: what obligation does the law impose? The answer is, one is only obliged to go to confession when one has grave sins to confess.

    And I withdraw again, lest a seemingly divine hand add red annotations to my comments, from which I shrink in fear!

  52. dnicoll says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing how many people take Communion on Sunday morning having completely ignored the Solemnity the day before. No mention of it at all at our Church, and the only service on Saturday is the usual Vigil service. And I thought the failure to make confession available at the advertised time last week was ‘interesting’. Should be a fascinating conversation tomorrow….

  53. padredana says:

    Well, folks, I have to say I am rather disappointed by this conversation. Some of us are trying to have a productive discussion, based upon what the law actually says, while using the language of the law within its context, but others seem to do nothing but misconstrue comments because either they have obviously never studied the law within an academic context and thus don’t understand the language being used. For example, within the law the term “burden” means something different than what it means in common parlance. Also, the Catechism does not have the force of law in the same way the Code does, yet here people are equating the two – an amateur mistake for sure. This is what happens when there are too many amateurs who think they are experts. So, I’m no longer going to be part of this conversation, for it has proven to be a grand waste of time.

  54. acardnal says:

    padredana, it’s unfortunate that you are leaving this thread because this subject is obviously a point of contention. When a person can be in one diocese where the bishop declares that the one Mass on Saturday Vigil satisfies both obligations and then that same person travels to another diocese where the bishop has declared that a Mass must be attended on both Saturday for IC and again to satisfy the Sunday obligation, it’s apparent the matter is not clear. Just look at these statements:

    Fr. Neri said, “‘Round these parts (Archdiocese of New Orleans), the rule Handed Down from On High is: the Sat Vigil Mass may fulfill either the obligation for I.C. OR the 2nd Sunday of Advent but not both. ”

    Fr. G said, “This year, the Immaculate Conception coincides with the Second Sunday of Advent for eight hours. During those eight hours, one can fulfill both obligations by attending any Mass.”

    Dr. Peters said, ” This year, Immac. Concep. and Second Sunday Adv. do NOT fall on the same day (only part of the latter’s period for satisfaction falls on the former) and so two Masses are required.”

    mamajen said, “(our diocese is saying Saturday night is too late to “count” for the holy day)”

    padredana said, “by going to Mass on Saturday evening one satisfies BOTH obligations. ”

    FrMartinFox said, “Two obligations, two times attending the Holy Mass. Ideally, one does so on the days in question, participating in the proper prayers in question, but the obligation is to attend Mass.”

    Yup. Clear as mud.

  55. acardnal says:

    Here’s another blurb from a bulletin in the diocese of Arlington (Virginia):

    “Immaculate Conception on Dec 8
    By Our Lady of Hope On November 28, 2012

    December 8 is the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a holy day of obligation.
    Mass will be offered at 5:00 PM & 7:30 PM on Friday, December 7 and 8:30 AM on Saturday, December 8.”

    The Saturday 5pm Vigil Mass is the first Mass of Sunday, therefore, it does not fulfill the obligation to attend a Mass for the Immaculate Conception.

  56. robtbrown says:

    jesusthroughmary says:

    You said of padredana, “According to your comments, the fewer obligations, the better.” I don’t believe that is what he is saying. He is saying that a dubious law should be interpreted in favor of the “defendant” rather than in favor of the “prosecutor”. There is no doubt as to law that every Sunday is of obligation.

    I have no problem with the law being interpreted in favor of laici, nor do I favor lenient or strict interpretation. Further, I don’t think the law dubious. Fr Fox put it well: Two obligations for two different feasts on two different days.

    And he did say that if the two birds with one stone approach is not valid, then fewer people would stay in a state of grace.

  57. robtbrown says:

    Padredana,

    First, I have the STB, STL, and STD and have taught in seminary. IMHO, that qualifies me an a non amateur in this discussion. Many matters of canon law, incl this one, are merely manifestations of theology. When there are holes in canon law (and there are in the 1983 code), there’s poor theology behind it.

    Second, as noted above, this matter not only concerns canon law but also liturgical law. The position taken by your seminary canonist would seem to ignore this fact.

    Third, the best professors I had in Rome were men who could explain the most abstruse principle to amateurs.

  58. jesusthroughmary says:

    Robtbrown –

    You said, Further, I don’t think the law dubious. Fr Fox put it well: Two obligations for two different feasts on two different days.

    If it weren’t dubious, then an ecclesiastical authority or a learned expert (Dr. Peters, yourself, or someone else) would have produced an explicit documentation. As it stands, all the evidence that I have seen presented is circumstantial. (Granted, I AM an amateur in this area, so that could be me not understanding the full weight of evidence that you and Dr. Peters have presented.)

    I agree with your position, but could this not be settled definitively by proposing a dubium to the CDW?

  59. mamajen says:

    I am happy to report that the point is now moot for our family. We attended 7 p.m. mass, which was very nice and painless. It also happens to be the 1-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, so it felt especially good to be there. If people really can’t manage anything but the “two-fer”, I think they ought to take advantage of that and not feel bad, but it really feels good being able to take the time to specially honor Mary if you can get to two separate masses.

  60. mamajen says:

    @padredana

    I hope you will continue to comment here and not take things too personally. I will admit that sometimes I am flabbergasted when lay commenters debate Fr. Z’s assertions and sometimes come right out and say he’s wrong, but in general the commenters here are good people and I personally have learned a lot from reading the back-and-forth. It can definitely be an exercise in patience at times, though.

  61. robtbrown says:

    jesusthroughmary says:

    Robtbrown –

    You said, Further, I don’t think the law dubious. Fr Fox put it well: Two obligations for two different feasts on two different days.

    If it weren’t dubious, then an ecclesiastical authority or a learned expert (Dr. Peters, yourself, or someone else) would have produced an explicit documentation. As it stands, all the evidence that I have seen presented is circumstantial. (Granted, I AM an amateur in this area, so that could be me not understanding the full weight of evidence that you and Dr. Peters have presented.)

    Why would it need documentation?

  62. jesusthroughmary says:

    Because there does not seem to be anything clear and explicit in current law that decides this issue one way or another. The 1983 Code abrogated anything prior, right? So any appeal to old maxims, canonical opinions, etc., wouldn’t govern. And there seems to be a loophole in the 1983 Code according to some, which could be feasible given the fact that the permission for an anticipated Mass is a recent innovation and a concession. It might not have been fully thought through. Again, I’m an amateur, and I think the principle that one Mass can only fulfill one obligation is sound and makes common sense, but common sense and the law don’t always see eye to eye, especially in an era where there is no regard for tradition. Fr. Z is learned and orthodox and yet disagrees with the prevailing understanding, and he is far from the only one.

  63. Imrahil says:

    On the annual confession thing, I think the way that combines Catechism and Code is that annual confession is obligatory for him and precisely him who has mortal sins to confess. (A problem already discussed by St. Thomas, see S. th. Supp. 6 I,V. I think it can safely be said that the obligation to appear before the priest and say “I’m not conscious of mortal sin”, if it ever existed, was cancelled by the new Code.)

    While dear @Supertradmum is of course right with what she says, I think the best way to make a man fulfill an obligation is to tell him it is obliging; tell him it is voluntary and he’ll be too lazy to do it. On the other hand, the best way to make a person do something good beyond obligation is to tell him it is voluntary; tell him it is obligatory and he’ll be too burdened under the apparent yoke of a moral life to do it. I do not know where this keen interior discernment comes from, but I feel it is there…

    Of course, annual and frequent Confession is a very good thing. Also, Fr Karl Rahner SJ (if those that may not like his theology, about which I also have some reservations, allow me to semi-quote him) once made the thought-experiment about what the effect would be if really the grave sins only were confessed: we’d have eo ipso the ancient public Church Penance back, and anybody who appeared for Confession would be burdened with the hard burden of having to confess, in the very act of appearing for Confession, publicly to be a mortal sinner.

  64. cwillia1 says:

    Can you kill two birds with one stone? Sure, if they are close to each other. Can you satisfy two $100 debts with the same $100 bill? Of course not. Can you satisfy two mass obligations with the same mass? Which analogy is appropriate? As I read the text of the Latin Church’s canon law, it is compatible with Fr Z’s interpretation and also compatible with Peters’ interpretation.

    The ideal is to celebrate each holy day with one’s parish at a mass that celebrates the holy day, scheduled on that holy day rather than the vigil. The law requires less. In my opinion the ideal gives us little insight into the law. Peters’ interpretation leads to absurd situations where a person would be obligated to attend back to back a Saturday funeral mass followed by the Sunday vigil mass when the Immaculate Conception falls on Saturday. Fr Z’s interpretation allows one to meet both obligations by attending one funeral mass for a stranger celebrated on Saturday afternoon. The bottom line I think is that it is better for the law to allow compliance in odd and unsatisfactory ways than for the law to require the absurd.

  65. Joe Magarac says:

    I will be taking a two-fer without apology. [I would not do that. See my other post about this.] Neither my parish nor my diocesan newspaper said anything about having to attend two Masses this weekend. My parish didn’t schedule any extra Masses to accomodate people. And with four little kids, one of whom is a newborn, and a job that keeps me from getting home before 6:30 pm, going to a vigil Mass last night – or taking the kids to two separate Masses today – is just unrealistic.

    If the Church wants to require people like me to attend two separate Masses, it should: a) state so clearly and not in a manner that requires interpretation by Dr. Peters or anyone else; and b) abolish vigil Masses, so that there is no confusion about whether a Mass on one day “counts” for that day or the next.

    I’m not trying to do the minimum. If someone had told me ahead of time that we had to go to two Masses this weekend, I would have grumbled but done it. But in the absence of any clear statement to that effect, a two-fer it is.